’See’ the solution whilst giving your mind a rest.
This is not about magic or clairvoyance or superpowers. In fact, there is nothing spectacular about it. Solving problems can be uncomplicated and even relaxing! And I had never thought it was possible. I had always put my brain to work at finding solutions for every situation in my life, trivial or profound, squeezing all I could from it to the point of complete exhaustion. Five years ago I literally had to take a vacation from thinking (and focus all my energies on recovering from adrenal burnout).
It was a strange and awesome time. Strange because I had to learn to respect my body’s needs, as it slowly showed me the way to reconnect to its contour. And I had to learn to respect the silences that appeared in my mind, the gaps between my thoughts. It was surprising to suddenly be so much blank space, such emptiness.
It was also an awesome time. I hired a coach, as I needed someone to help me regain focus in my life. I expected to have to work at finding my way out of the haze. But I discovered that, precisely when on ‘holiday’, the brain works at its best: efficiently, with no doubt, and spontaneously providing the best answer. The secret lies exactly in that empty space, and you don’t need adrenal burnout to get there!
This is what neuroscientists mean when they speak of the process of insight. And this is also what mindfulness traditions have been trying to teach us all along! So, we have a ‘problem’: when we sit back, relax and ‘observe’ our thoughts and emotions from a certain distance (through the coach’s questions or awareness techniques), we slow down and access deeper resources within us to solve that problem. Some say the solution arises from reflection by the non-conscious brain, as the pre-frontal cortex (part of the brain responsible for reasoning and analysis) takes a rest. Others call it ‘being in action’, or connecting to what is true in us, at our core, at that moment. From that place beyond the noise, we instinctively ‘see’ what the next step is and we are innately motivated to do something about it. That is all. It actually is effortless!
But that is really not all, and this is the great part. We are not just making decisions or solving problems in a more energy-efficient and less dramatic way. We are also transforming ourselves. We are literally rewiring our brains in the process, or, if you are into metaphysics, practicing living from a place of deep connection to ourselves. So there was something spectacular about it after all: we all have the resources inside us to live this way. Imagine the strength this gives us in life!
OK, there is a little trick after all. The only condition for tapping into this is that we have to be willing to stop, look inside, and allow ourselves to see.